OFS plan includes apartments, hotel

Artist rendering courtesy of Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District

Artist rendering courtesy of Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District

NORCROSS -- Interstate 85's landscape in Gwinnett could change once again, if a proposed redevelopment of the OFS property at Jimmy Carter Boulevard becomes a reality.

A study conducted for the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District in partnership with OFS will be discussed during a 7:30 a.m. OFSCID board meeting today.

The study outlines the potential to transform the under-utilized, 168-acre property to a mixed-use activity center, complete with a small 5-acre park, 1,000 apartment units, 1.3 million square feet of office space, 850,000 square feet of shops, 800 hotel rooms and more.

OFS would continue to use 20 to 30 acres for its work in making fiber-optic cables, and part of an existing warehouse would remain, possibly being converted to a convention hall or exhibit space.

"What you see on 85 would be totally different with this plan," CID director Chuck Warbington said. "This could be a catalyst to new development in the area. This would change the character of the area."

The study produced some of the same elements proposed for the site in 2006, when developers had stepped forward to transform the property, originally built as a communications industry factory in 1969 for Western Electric.

Five years ago, the plans fell through, and the economy has kept other developers from stepping forward. But Warbington said the new study has already begun to generate interest from investors.

"When you begin to look at pieces, it's something that can be done here soon," Warbington said, adding that the potential for a light rail station linking Gwinnett to Atlanta's public transit system is creating a buzz. "We're beginning to see the renewed interest in it."